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Best Hair Salon: Philip Pelusi

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Philip Pelusi, the man, is the best possible advertisement for Philip Pelusi, the salon. The former is one of Pittsburgh's most successful entrepreneurs, having started with a single Squirrel Hill salon three decades ago and built an empire which includes several area locations, a training academy and his own product line.

And just this year, Pelusi expanded his reach -- and fan base -- with a brand-spanking-new outpost in New York City. A salon on West 12th Street opened on Oct. 2, and Pelusi now divides his time between Pittsburgh and New York, where he estimates he spends roughly 40 percent of his working hours.

While remaining committed to his company's native home, Pelusi desired more than he could find in the 'Burgh. "It's the challenge of creating something in New York" that drew him, he says. "We'll still keep our main operations here. I don't want to diminish Pittsubrgh."

The New York salon is part of a physically connected but self-contained trio of business, which include a gallery and café. Pelusi formed these companion locations in collaboration with a chef and an artist whom he describes as "one and the same in approach and philosophy" with himself. Part of his mission is to integrate the fine arts with the practical art forms of cosmetics and cuisine. High tea is served in the salon, and the entertainment line-up boasts film screenings and Shakespeare readings. While Pelusi doesn't think such an undertaking would float in Pittsburgh at present, he doesn't completely dismiss attempting it in the future.

For now, he's undeniably present in the community. He still cuts and styles hair himself on occasion, usually at the South Side location, which is the one closest to the academy where he instructs the star stylists of the future in the "volumetric cutting system" he created and developed. And as he strides down East Carson Street, Mr. Pelusi is hard to miss. For Mr. Pelusi is in possession of his own distinct mane, a wavy ponytail of black and silver that he's sported for quite some time.

Pelusi is cagey about his own personal hairdo: He dances around questions about who actually does his hair, and maintains that he doesn't get it cut that often. Asked how he functions as the salon's guiding spirit, he chalks his influence up to his energy, rather than his look.

And while the man and the business share a name, Pelusi is adamant that his success has not resulted from his own work alone: Each and every member of his support staff has contributed to his climb, he says, and he's committed to making sure they're acknowledged.

So, readers, Philip sends you his appreciation for the votes of coiffure confidence, and also requests the chance for a shout-out to employees of the company: "Thanks to all my team and all the people that have helped us maintain that structure. It's one challenge to get there, and even harder to maintain."

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